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Schuette: Asian Carp A Clear And Present Danger To Michigan's Environment and Jobs
January 27, 2011
TRAVERSE CITY - Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today addressed a public forum sponsored by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regarding efforts to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. At the forum held today in Traverse City, Schuette called for slashing the time the federal government is taking to study a permanent ecological barrier between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River basins from five years to 18 months because of evidence that Asian carp are an imminent threat. Such a barrier would offer long-term protection for Michigan's environment and economy against the threat of Asian carp.
"Asian carp are a clear and present danger to the Great Lakes and our economy," said Schuette. "We cannot wait five more years to address a threat of this magnitude."
Earlier this month, Schuette met with leaders of Michigan's environmental and sportsmen's communities to form a united front in the fight to block Asian carp. These groups included Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC), Trout Unlimited, Michigan Steelhead and Salmon Fishermen's Association, National Wildlife Federation, Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, Nature Conservancy and the Natural Resources Defense Council. Schuette and participating leaders from the conservation and sportsmen communities all agree that the current five-year plan by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is too long to wait.
Schuette noted that Michigan's own Great Lakes Commission has already begun work on its own study of permanent ecological separation, scheduled to be completed by January 2012. The $2 million project will evaluate the economic, technical and ecological elements of separation, along with associated costs, impacts and potential benefits of a re-engineered hydrologic system.
Two weeks ago, Schuette announced that his office would continue its lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Chicago Area Water Reclamation District in an effort to accelerate efforts to confront the dangers posed by an imminent Asian carp invasion.
Schuette's suit calls for both long-term and immediate actions by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.
· Schuette is asking the Court to force the Army Corps of Engineers to shorten their planning to create a permanent ecological barrier between the Mississippi and Great Lakes from five years to 18 months. This is vital to stopping not only the flow of invasive species into the Great Lakes, but to stop their movement down into the Mississippi basin.
· While the study is being completed, Schuette is asking for:
o Increased activity in a number of areas to stop the Asian carps' advance, including:
o Operating locks in a way that limits the movement of the fish;
o Installing other interim physical barriers to fish passage;
o Increased monitoring for evidence of the fish beyond current electrical barriers using the best available techniques, including environmental DNA (eDNA) testing; and
o Targeted poisoning and netting in Chicago-area waterways.
The repeated discovery of Asian carp eDNA beyond electrical barriers in Chicago, in addition to the discovery of a live carp beyond the barrier, brought together a coalition of five Great Lakes states in the suit, with Michigan being joined by Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio and Pennsylvania on July 19, 2010.
The most recent district court action on the case occurred on January 7, 2011 in which the Court considered plans to schedule the ongoing suit. In addition, Michigan has filed an appeal of a December 2, 2010 ruling that denied Michigan's motion for a preliminary injunction that would put immediate remedies in place, such as closing locks and increasing monitoring, as the underlying case goes forward. Michigan's brief supporting its request for the preliminary injunction is due to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit by January 26, 2011.
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